Across the retail sector, women are challenging how brands interact with their customers — and driving better business as a result. Female leaders explain how in the FQ Lounge @ Shoptalk.

How Women are Changing the Rules of the Retail Industry

Author: Leigh Michael

Across the retail sector, women are challenging how brands interact with their customers — and driving better business as a result. Connecting women who are changing the game will also change the equation. That’s why we brought the FQ Lounge to Shoptalk: “Ultimately, the goal is to increase the number of executive level women in retail by helping them build a network,” says Melissa Campanelli, co-founder of Women in Retail Leadership Circle. Female leaders share how growing personal relationships with customers, taking calculated risks, and leveraging smart data are the ingredients of success.

Woman holding Brand product label
Photo Credit: rawpixel on Unsplash

Use data to drive more authentic customer-company relationships.

There’s an abundance of data available at retail’s fingertips — and its critical to harness that data to truly understand the consumer. “As we’re looking to personalize that experience, it’s all about knowing who the customer is and engaging with them on a personalized level so that we are creating brand loyalty,” says Melissa Metheny, VP of Sales and Client Management at Acxiom.

Streamline the customer experience.

Partnerships are core to the success of the brand, says Alex Mooney, Sr. Director of Partnerships at Honey, a browser extension that automatically finds and applies coupon codes at checkout. Although Honey is just six-and-a-half years old, it works with 13,000 brands. Honey has become a leader in the space because it has streamlined the online shopping experience. “We can order items via a smart speaker, check out of a grocery store without talking to a cashier and, with Honey, never search for a coupon code again,” she says. “As technologies advance, consumers attention spans are decreasing, and convenience has become a higher priority than ever before. It is about how you can make your shopping and checkout experiences as easy and effortless for the consumer as possible.”

Leaders discuss retail technology trends in the FQ Lounge @ Shoptalk
Leaders discuss retail technology trends in the FQ Lounge @ Shoptalk

Be willing to try new technology in order to change the rules.

Many brands are unwilling to step off the already-established path to try new technology and be early adopters, says Carol Chen, co-founder of Style.me. Noting that most companies wait for someone else to experiment with new technology before embracing it, Carol elaborated: “The ones that are seeking out things that are different from the competition are the ones that are going to win at the end of the day. They’re willing to push the boundaries to give a better customer experience.”

Know what you’re capable of — and demonstrate it to others.

There is a historical assumption that “men will just get it done” — and that it’s time for women to demonstrate that they can get it done, too, says Dominique Hollins, Seller Diversity Ambassador at eBay.  She explained: “There is this mindset that men will prevail by any means necessary. But on the flip side, women don’t always get that consideration.” To combat this, she recommends that women truly know who they are, what they want to do, and remain committed to their own success.

Take time to understand your customers for stronger brand loyalty.

Truly successful companies, like Everlane, ThirdLove, and Revolve, know their customers so well and stay true to what their customers are doing, “whether it’s launching a new product, how they launch a new product, or how they go to market. They really understand their customer,” says Melissa Davis, CRO of Afterpay USA Touch, a technology-driven payments company. Melissa explained that it’s easy to differentiate the companies that use data to authentically understand their community from the companies that have a long way to go.

Transform risks into opportunities.

When we think about risks, we often think about danger.  Alana Rush, Director of Business Development at BounceX, explores how we can remove the danger from “risky” situations to transform them into opportunities. “It’s clear that there are risks, then there are opportunities. But sometimes there are gaps between those two things, especially mentally,” she says. Alana highlights the importance of “meeting yourself where you’re at” and bringing something that feels safe into your corner, so you can have the security to approach a risky situation more confidently.  

Let’s say, for example, that you want to make a career switch, but it feels dangerous because you need a steady paycheck. Think about how you can remove the danger factor, such as by securing contract work before you leave your position to fill in the gaps or map out a savings plan to give yourself a cushion.

Learn how to listen for brand success.

“Brands used to tell customers what they wanted, but now brands are learning to listen and put the customer experience at the center of every interaction,” says Gwendolyn Gayner, Enterprise Strategist at Braze. However, there is often disparity in how brands and how customers view a brand’s ability to form a personal relationship with their consumer base. “90% of brands think they’re doing it successfully, but just 30% of customers do,” she says. The biggest attributes that make a brand feel personal revolve around making the brand feel human. She encourages brands to use the data they have responsibly to truly get to know their customers.

It’s clear that women are changing the retail game by listening to their customers, pushing boundaries, and creating technologies designed to help retailers improve their business processes. For more insights, you can watch every conversation in the FQ Lounge @ Shoptalk on our Facebook page, and check out these stories:

Why The Most Successful Brands Have Heart

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Katie Couric & Top Leaders On the State Of Women in Media & Ads